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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

72                                       CHAKACTEE 01 THB SCBHSRY,
flanked with towers, but their circuit often encloses only a few miserable cot-
tages," After a lapse of 50 years the above description is still fairly appli-
cable. The villages are now more populous and the mud walls by which they
were protected, being no longer required, have been gr&dully levelled with the
ground. But the general features remain unchanged. The soil, being poor
and thin, is unfavourable to the growth of most large forest trees ; the mango
and shiskam, ihe glory of the lower Doab, are conspicuously absent, and their
place is most inadequately supplied by the nim^ fards, and various species of
the fig tribe. For the same reason the dust in any ordinary weather is deep
on all the thoroughfares and, if the slightest air is stirring, rises in a dense cloud
and veils the whole landscape in an impenetrable haze. The Jamnni, the one
great river of Braj, during eight months of tihe year meandeis sullenly, a mere
rivulet, between wide expanses of sand, bounded by monotonous fiats of arable
land, or high banks, which the rapidly expended force of contributory torrents has
cracked and broken into ugly chasms and stony ravines, naked of all vegetation,
As iihe limits of Braj from north to soutib on one side are defined by the
high lands to the east of the Jamnn% so are they on the other side by the hill
ranges of Bharat^pur; but there are few peaks of conspicuous height and the
general outline is tame and unimpressive.   The villages, though large, are meanly
builtj and betray the untidiness characteristic of Jats and Gujars, who form the
bulk of the population.   From a distance they are often picturesque, being
built on title slope of natural or artificial mounds,, and. thus gaining dignity
by elevation.   But OB nearer approach they are found to consist of labyrinths of
the narrowest iaaes winding between the mud walls of large enclosures, which
are rather cattle-yards than houses.   At the base of the Mil is ordinarily a
broad circle of meadow land, studded with low trees, which afford grateful
shade and pasturage for the cattle ; while the large pond, from which fihe earth
was dug to construct the village site, supplies them throughout the year with
water.    These natural woods commonly consist ofpilM, chhonkar^ and 'kadamb
trees, among which are always interspersed clumps of ^arU with its leafless
evergreen twigs and "bright-coloured flower and fruit,   The pa$enduy pdpri,
amis kingvt) gmili3 bama, and dho also occur, but less frequently; though the
last-name^ the Sanskrit dlm-m, at Bars&na clothes tiie whole of &e Mil-side.
At sun-rise and sun-set the thoroughfares are all bat impassable, as the strag-
gling herds of oxen and buffaloes leave and return to "Hie homestead: for in the
straitened precincts of an ordinary village are stalled every night from oOO or
600 to IjOQO head of cattle, at least equalling, often ontnuiiiDeringj the luunaix
population*